Our eighteenth issue features stories in settings both familiar and strange. The characters within are as different as can be, yet they all face hard decisions, their pasts haunting the present as a spectre, sometimes literally!

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The night Ma died, I woke up to the smell of cigarette smoke, and a sudden blaze of light. I heard the scratch of wood on wood as she leaned towards the window and took out the too-small screen we’d wedged against the frame. A white moth came in, drawn to the glow of the …

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My thoughts may have been my downfall. I knew the rumors of NO ONE and the unfathomable reaches of their collective consciousness. At school, kids whispered NO ONE had planted a device in every child born in the last seventeen years. They had developed a technology to decipher our brain waves, a technology akin to …

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The battle cry of hundreds of men rang out over the tumultuous waters. Ladgarda barked orders and her lone feminine voice melted into the symphony of war. Her longships sliced through the sea toward the enemy’s rear. So busy were her enemies with their certain triumph over Ragnar’s army, they did not know they were …

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Shaista knows that she hasn’t gone to heaven. The Holy Qur’an teaches that heaven is a place of plentiful water, of gurgling streams and cool clear pools. Instead she sees only Najeed Rawdah, the village where she lived and died. Patches of mud, made of her own blood mixed with the parched soil, stain the …

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At least it was a job. Two years as an researcher on one of the sorriest outposts in the system made it seem like an appealing option. Better yet, it was on Delfinio. I’d been looking for an excuse to return, now that the war was over. India’s call had come as a complete surprise; …

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Darius concentrated on the babble of the nearby stream and the scuttling of insects beneath his ear, but in the distance he could still hear muffled screams. He pressed the left side of his body deep into the log’s soft, warm vegetation, as though to disappear entirely. The man to his right died when he …

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Peggy had been able to see the dragon from over a mile away—not exactly a surprise given the flat, unvarying landscape. At first it had been a vague grayish smear on the horizon. As her battered old station wagon had gotten closer, the smear had resolved into a large metallic cylinder with a single flat …

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Tunbi plucks the hair in my armpit and I nearly expire from pleasure. Each plucked hair resonates in the tips of my toes which curl, digging into the unyielding floor tiles. The ceiling fan spins, the gilded blades a golden blur. “Just a few more,” says Tunbi. Pluck, pluck. I feel a trickle of urine …

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My sister and me are in the walls at the farmhouse that used to be our home, but no one knows we’re here. No, we’re not dead or anything stupid like that. Callie is only six and I’m nine, so that puts me in charge. That’s what Daddy said. He also told us to run, …

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